‘Safari: An expedition to observe animals in their natural habitat’
When first time safari goers are dreaming of their African adventure they usually picture a wide open, never-ending expanse of bush, a traditional safari Jeep and focus on the elusive Big Five. But if we accept the above definition of the word then we suddenly realise there are plenty of different safari settings available to us, keeping that bucket-list ever expanding.
A river safari is a specific, unique and sought-after experience and with good reason too. The Zambezi River is the fourth longest river in Africa and has even more to offer than most. We give you 5 good reasons to choose a Zambezi river safari over a traditional one.
1) Where there is water there is life
The Zambezi is home to a variety of sought after wildlife including hippo, crocodiles and abundant bird life. Its surrounding riverine woodland also provides a home to many large animals including buffalo, zebra, giraffe and elephant all of whom use the Zambezi as their watering hole. The river supports several hundred species of fish, some of which are endemic to the river and many locals rely on the river as their own food source.
Ann Lewinsky Photography
2) Extra water attractions and activities
The area of the river basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres and it flows through five countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola. Along the river’s path (sandwiched between Zimbabwe and Zambia) lies one of the seven natural wonders of the world – The incredible Victoria Falls. Now that’s what we call an impressive ‘add on’ to your safari! There are many ways to experience this inspiring mass of water.
Victoria Falls, Zambia. Photo courtesy of Tongabezi Lodge
Tongabezi Lodge, a romantic African hideaway on the banks of the Zambezi, offers some great options including tours of Livingstone Island, microlight and helicopter flights for that birds-eye view as well as the chance to take a dip in Devil’s Pool (if you dare!) which is a natural infinity pool on the edge of the falls. Additionally, they offer white water rafting, jet boat rides, fishing trips as well as sunset or sunrise boat trips.
Devil’s Pool tour with Tongabezi Lodge
3) Day Trips
If you are basing yourself near Livingstone, Zambia, then there are some wonderful day trips you can do on top of your river safari. This includes a trip to Chobe National Park in northern Botswana near the vast, inland Okavango Delta. It’s known for its large herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, which converge along the Chobe Riverfront in the dry months. Lions, antelopes and hippos inhabit the woods and lagoons around Linyanti Marsh. The floodable grasslands of the Savuti Marsh attract numerous bird species, plus migrating zebras.
Chobe National Park
4) Comfort, luxury and style
Let’s face it enjoying a safari from a boat rather than a dusty old jeep does have that edge of appeal. It’s cooler, a more comfortable ride and generally being where the wildlife wants to be means that the animals tend to come to you.
If you want to extend this touch of luxury to your accommodation too then there are a few very upmarket lodges and hotels available including The Victoria Falls Hotel , The Royal Livingstone and Tongabezi Lodge
Sunset boast cruise with Tongabezi Lodge
5) Those Sunrises and Sunsets
All African sunsets and sunrises are spectacular and bring out the best of the bush but somehow ones seen from the Zambezi are just better! It’s the reflection on the water, the sounds of the wildlife gearing up or winding down at the water’s edge, glimpses of hippos and crocs making ripples in the water and of course that picture perfect photo opportunity.
Photos courtesy of Tongabezi Lodge
So when you are planning your African safari, think beyond the ordinary. There are so many options available to you around the Zambezi River and, who knows, you might even get to tick multiple items off that bucket list on one go!
Some service providers offering Zambezi River Safaris include:
Victoria Falls River Safari offer an upper river safari
Wild Horizons offer an upper river safari
Go To Africa – Chobe River Safari (Botswana)
Tongabezi Lodge – Luxury lodge that works with multiple service providers to offer the full Zambezi experience